2016 Nissan Micra SV - A Rental Review

So after my unfortunate accident with my Solstice, the insurance company decided to ignore the “convertible” part in a “compact convertible”, and deemed a compact is a suitable equivalent. So I was presented with either a Hyundai Accent, Nissan Micra, or (guy didn’t tell me initially they had one) a Ford Fiesta Sedan.

(DISCLAIMER: Nissan didn’t want me to drive this, nor did whom paid for the rental, also known as the insurance company of guy who rear-ended me, it just so happen to be on the lot at the time.)

(Actually the guy saw my convertible and was about to put me in a Sonata, and then a Genesis... but I didn’t want to push my luck and end up paying out of pocket...)
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So here it is. 2016 Nissan Micra. I mean I guess of the 3, this was the most “similar” to my Solstice. Hey, Solstice competes in the SCCA Showroom Stock B, and the Micra has a whole racing series dedicated to it. Racing pedigree, right there. And if anything, its ancestor was actually an Alfa Romeo. I mean, come on, Alfa!

...all we know is, it is NOT the Dacia Sandero, but it is the Sandero’s Japanese hobo cousin.

Based on the Nissan V platform, which is also known as Renault B and the Dacia B0 (good news!), it’s actually shared with the larger Versa Note. With the exception that, this car, only has one mission: to be cheap. Just like it’s Romanian cousin.

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And it is. At a base MSRP of $9988 Canadian, it is a whopping $7 cheaper than the runner-up, the Chevrolet Spark, making it Canada’s cheapest car you can buy brand new.

What’s there and missing?

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So what do you get that $9988? Not much, actually, basically a car. With a capital B in basic. Four wheels, four doors, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and a radio, they didn’t go as far as taking out the radio this time. And just like a Porsche, options adds up fast.

The one I got was an SV, which has air conditioning, automatic, Bluetooth (for handsfree only) and power everything (locks, windows, keyless). That brings the price to $14848, which is actually more than the Spark with the same equipment.

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Cost cutting, however, still seems standard across the board on all trims. There’s pretty much zero sound deadening going on, depending how you see it, it could be a plus (weight savings, genuine engine noise) or minus. And by minus, this is the first hatchback ever I’ve been in, when you lock and unlock the doors, you hear the actuator striking on metal panels and you can hear it pinging. The other evidence of quality fit-and-finish would be the passenger airbag. If you see that gap above in person, you can actually see the airbag unit under it, and the cover actually flexes.

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On the plus side, it is fairly roomy. I’m 6-feet tall, and being a hatchback, it has a ton of headroom, front and back. I actually feel less cramped here than in the back seat of my 328i, even though my knee is starting to dig into the front seat.

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Trunk space isn’t bad either, I think a large spinner suitcase can probably go in there.

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So how does it drive?

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Well, for starters, I think my specimen could use an oil change. It’s got 14k kms on the clock, and the sticker on the top corner says “Oct 11", which I assume it’s “due”, and not “just done” (another reason why NOT to buy an ex-rental).

But even then, it not too bad on power. It’s the 1.6L HR16DE, exact same engine you get in a Versa Note, developing the exact same 109HP with the exact same 107 lb-ft of torque. I haven’t personally driven the Versa (was told it feels slow), but here with only 2375 lbs to lug around, it’s actually not bad. Or it could just be me starting to get old and James May-esque. It’s best described as peppy, and it does get up to torque band revs fairly quickly, but it’s overall quite noisy.

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Spare tire wasn’t cut for weight savings!

Steering was fairly light, not too surprising for an electric unit. It does lack a bit of feedback, but response was there. I didn’t take it on a highway yet, only some twisty back roads, and it didn’t tighten up too much. You could tell the car was completely designed for city driving, for the light steering and the super-tight turning radius. This makes it a VERY easy car to drive and park.

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Suspension, was, well, fairly average. It’s not hard like the Bilstein coil-overs on my Solstice (duh), but it isn’t Buick/Lexus soft either (double duh). Some road bump is felt, also some body roll while cornering, but nothing serious or extreme.

Now here’s my only mechanical pet-peeve I have with it: the automatic transmission, more specifically, the gearing. Nissan didn’t put the CVT here, it’s a traditional 4-speed unit. But with the gearing, it might as well be a CVT, or even a 3-speed from an old Cavalier. It almost feels like third gear doesn’t exist, shifts like 1-2 and jumps straight to 4, that’s it. But then aside from the gearing, shift quality seems OK, nothing bad but also nothing to take home about, it does its job. Some other reviewers seem to say so as well, you might as well get the manual, at least it’s more fun.

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So what’s the verdict?

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Well it does its job, I’ll give it that. The small size and easy maneuverability makes it the perfect first car. But that’s about it. However, once you add options, it does get pricy, and I’m not too sure about the value anymore.

Good thing now though, I believe it’s actually the last year for this particular Micra, so if you’re in the market for one, you might get some hefty discounts for a good deal. On the flip side though, the new Micra looks WAY better than this, except it’s not confirmed whether that will be in North America this time.

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